My oldest daughter has always been a fabulous eater. I needn’t worry about “kid food” with her, as she prefers whatever is on my plate—including vegetables. So when my second came along innately suspicious of solid foods (completely rejecting them until almost a year old), I was thrilled to discover one green vegetable she would happily consume.
Over the last two years, I’ve prepared broccoli for her in any variety of ways, but The Doctor recently informed me that if I’m wanting to receive broccoli’s full benefits (which are quite extensive), then I should be cooking it one specific way. Who knew?!
Researchers hail broccoli as one of the most effective cancer-preventing vegetables, both because of its levels of Indole 3 carbinol (I-3-c) and sulforaphane. I-3-c also helps to balance estrogen metabolism, making it a significant vegetable for female diets.
But here’s the deal, overcooking broccoli destroys the sulforaphane. Many people boil or microwave their broccoli (that’s what I often did), but a recent study discovered that the enzyme that releases the sulforaphane is destroyed within one minute of either microwaving or boiling broccoli. Oops!
Raw broccoli is still good, especially if combined with another food that provides the enzyme that releases sulforaphane, such as wasabi or radishes, but what is best? Research found that light steaming—steaming for 3 to 4 minutes—is ideal.
So what about frozen broccoli? This is the bummer news. In the same study, they discovered that people get practically no Indole-3-carbinol or sulforaphane from frozen broccoli. The theory is that this is a result of blanching vegetables before freezing them, which is a standard practice throughout the food industry.
Interestingly enough, in regard to inhibiting cancer growth, research suggests that the best combination is broccoli with tomatoes, and the tomatoes can be cooked in any way; they simply need a bit of oil added, as lycopene (the chemical that increases antioxidant levels) is lipid soluble.
So for the last couple months, when making any meal containing tomatoes or tomato sauce, I try to add in nice serving of lightly steamed broccoli coated in coconut oil. Considering that my youngest will only eat a limited range of green vegetables, it’s good to know that she’s actually receiving the full benefits of broccoli.